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Are bars, gyms safe? ABC15 Health Insider weighs in on the riskiest places to go

Shopping masks
Posted at 4:00 AM, Apr 06, 2021

PHOENIX — Concerns about a night out at the bar or even just a game night with friends? We all want to get back to that, but before you RSVP to anything, there's something doctors say we all should know.

Dr. Janice Johnston with Redirect Health says we should still be avoiding indoor places that could potentially have a lot of people around.

First on her list of riskiest places: bars.

"There's more people there. It might be loud so there is music playing, but it's hard to hear when it's loud or a lot of people talking. So what do we tend to do? We get closer, we raise our voices, even yell a little bit so we can be heard. I think that would be one of the riskiest places to go."

But what about a normal restaurant? Maybe tables have been spaced out or maybe there is still reduced capacity.

"That would be a little bit better. So, you always need to come back to the distance and the amount of people that are there. In a restaurant where you can have your own booth or at least be separated, I think that's safer for sure. Where we're packed in or dancing or squished in at the bar close to the bar that's definitely much higher risk."

Next on Dr. Johnston's list: gyms, although she says it really just depends on the setup.

"People are working out, right? And to wear a mask the whole time is difficult. You're already kind of breathing heavy and to wear a mask is irritating. The huffing, the puffing, the touching everything. Are you cleaning everything in between? If there is a lot of people in the gym then that certainly could make it higher risk. But there are a lot of gyms that are quite large and you can continue to social distance. You have to look at where you're going. Is it a group setting where you're doing a group class? Or is it something individual where you can at least maintain your space?"

Dr. Johnston adds it really comes down to knowing your own risk level.

"It's not like a switch turned on overnight and everything is OK. We all want to get back to normal. We all need to evaluate our own risks. I think that's our biggest thing. I really want to go back and do these things I find these things enjoyable, but you need to evaluate your own risks."